18 Apr 2023

Tai Rāwhiti businesses on edge as Cyclone Gabrielle grants in huge demand

7:30 am on 18 April 2023

Cafe 35. Photo:

Tai Rāwhiti businesses affected by Cyclone Gabrielle are well short of the cash they need, with demand for support grants far exceeding available funding.

Trust Tairāwhiti, which is distributing the government funds locally, said it could only give successful applicants 44 percent of what they asked for, to try and stretch the money as far as possible.

The highest payout was just over $17,000 - well short of the $40,000 per business cap.

Tokomaru Bay's Cafe 35 owner Peter Cunningham said his grant, just shy of $8000, covered wages and some expenses - but they were close to closure and had nowhere to turn for help.

"We're very grateful for what we've got, but like I say we've been going backwards, so it's been a bit trying," Cunningham said.

"We did ask [Ministry of Social Development] if there was any further help available and they just said no, and Trust Tairāwhiti had finished with their grants, so there was nothing there either."

Tokomaru Bay. Photo:

Cunningham said the cafe's turnover was about half of what it was before the cyclone.

"Closure isn't that far away, to be fair.

"We think we'll get through, more help would have been good, but we think we'll manage eventually.

"We're still a long way down on turnover, and we're kinda [sic] struggling."

Trust Tairāwhiti said on its website it would continue to advocate on behalf of businesses for more government support to meet demand.

Of the 810 applications that had been processed, 660 businesses had received grants so far, totalling $6.7 million.

Applications closed on Sunday and 65 were still being processed.

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